Creative Writing For All


Many authors take their own life experience as a starting point for works of fiction. In this discursive course we will be looking at how memory and imagination can work together across a variety of genres to create engaging stories. A combination of writing exercises, text analysis, and group debate will form the basis of our sessions together. Students will discuss classic works of fiction in the context of the lives of their authors: placing famous texts within a social and historical framework. They will also share their own individual pieces of writing. As such, they will gain creative and critical skills which will bring a fresh perspective to the reading experience. Absolute beginners and practicing writers are equally welcome. 

This course is part of the Inspiring Oxford summer school.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.


What We Remember:  

We will look at the power of subjective memory: both as a formal, fictional narrative device and as a psychological truth. We use set texts as a stimulus for discussion and then using a series of short writing exercises, students will create an initial personal piece of ‘real life’ writing and thereby get the creative juices flowing.  


The Power of Myth: 

We will look at the power of the myth in a range of cultures: both in terms of traditional storytelling and modern political ‘spin’. Using set text and contemporary news media, we will look at how a mythic narrative enacts a set of moral values. We will then discuss how we narrate our personal experiences to fit our sense of our own myths, and how this natural human tendency can be subverted for the creation of original fiction.  


Characters We Know: 

We will begin with a series of writing exercises, using memory and anecdote as a starting point, to create a range of original characters. We will then discuss the relationship between character and plot, using set texts and visual media. We will discuss how to create original story outlines for our group of characters.  


Beyond Our Selves: 

We will begin by discussing the relationship between an author and the writing process: how we can use story to explore ideas that we care about without lecturing the readers. We will look at set text and interviews to examine how an author’s attitude to his subject matter changes as the story develops. Using a combination of writing exercises and text analysis we will learn about the power of the “opposite” point of view. 


The Critic vs. The Creator:  

We will begin by discussing the difference between the critical and the creative mind, and the importance of separating the two throughout the writing process. We will discuss how to plan an extended story outline. We will also look at the common stylistic mistakes made by new writers and offer tips on how to avoid them. This should give students the skills and the confidence to continue to write, either fiction or autobiography – or a combination of the two. 

Field Trip
Destination: The Story Museum


Excursion Rating: Moderate - up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps. 


Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals per person) £2300.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals per person) £1970.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals per person) £2150.00
Fee option 4 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner per person) £1615.00


Please note there are no sources of funding (scholarships, bursaries, etc) available for applicants.


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Payment terms

If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking.

If submitting an enrolment form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date.

Extended stay fee

Participants staying multiple, consecutive weeks will be charged an additional bed and breakfast fee for the cost of the Saturday night between courses.

Cancellations and refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to, or by post to Inspiring Oxford, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid. 

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2024 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2024 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2024 - no refunds will be made under any circumstances.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

2. Cancellation by us

Where there is good reason, OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course by giving you notice in writing at any time before the course is due to start. In these cases, we will endeavour to offer a transfer to another available course if practical and acceptable to you, subject to payment or refund of any difference in course fees. Alternatively, we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred. The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2024. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, anyone affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2024, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course at short notice in exceptional circumstances that would prevent the course from being delivered e.g. tutor illness. In these rare instances, and if we are unable to find a replacement tutor, we will notify you as soon as possible and arrange a transfer to another available Inspiring Oxford course. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

3. Travel insurance

All participants must purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred. OUDCE cannot be held responsible for any costs you may incur in relation to travel or accommodation bookings as a result of a course cancellation, or if you are unable to attend the course for any other reason. 


Ms Elizabeth Garner


Elizabeth Garner is a novelist and editor with 25 years of experience of story-development in both film and publishing. She was written two novels: Nightdancing, which received the Betty Trask Award; and The Ingenious Edgar Jones, which was published to critical acclaim in the UK and USA. She has also published a collection of illustrated folk tales: Lost & Found. She is a freelance fiction editor and also teaches creative writing for OUDCE.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 16 people, teaching methods used during this course may include:

  • Short lectures/Presentations
  • Physical handouts
  • Seminars/group discussions
  • Written exercises in-class
  • Student presentations
  • Video recordings
  • Field Trip

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Registration closes on 22 May 2024. Courses can fill up fast so early registration is recommended.

Single accommodation may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page. 

If you would like a twin en suite room, please send us a completed enrolment form that names the other course participant you will be sharing with. Please note these rooms have limited availability.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at

Level and demands

Inspiring Oxford is aimed at non-specialists: no prior knowledge is required, and classes are pitched at an introductory level. The courses are designed for an international audience aged 18 and over.


During your course you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Brasenose College, in the heart of the city in buildings overlooked by the iconic Radcliffe Camera. Please note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished and do not have air-conditioning. 

You can find out more about Brasenose by visiting their website.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite
  • Twin en suite: shared between participants that apply to the programme together
  • Standard single: bathrooms are shared between, on average, four participants
  • a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have lunch and dinner at Brasenose, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.

    Non-residential participants are encouraged to attend all aspects of the academic and social programme, and they have equal access to Brasenose as residential participants.

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet).